The Times, They are a Changin'

January 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Having just written a 26 page paper on Documentary Photography and the Citizen Reporter I thought it was useful to make a comment here.

As most know, it's a hard time for professional photographers these days (not to mention photographic equipment companies).

Things have changed since the film era and technology has exploded exponentially. First digital cameras and now we have mobile computers with cameras within, which we commonly know as the smart phone or camera phone.

Now, I am not deflating nor condemning the worth of the camera phone, it has tremendous applications and has allowed so many more to discover the joy of photography. But the smart phone has it's limitations. Although manufacturers are feverishly striving to improve the camera quality with every new incarnation, the phone as an imaging device is still lacking. Control and quality are the main failings, but then they are surely offset by size, convenience and speed.

The simple fact is that it is hard to even purchase a phone nowadays sans an included camera. Therefore these are devices that are most commonly with us as we go about life. At any given moment we can use our phone to capture a moment, a situation, anything that happens before us. Then, and what the current consumer has come to expect, publish this immediately. Technology has driven us to have expectations. We have less free time and that we have we want to enjoy so everything is at a frenetic pace and through technology we demand speed. We want everything we are used to but we now expect it NOW! 

In professional terms the citizen reporter can capture and upload an image with the efficiency and speed the consumer demands. This then creates a desire and then everything else tries to follow so the audience is not lost. More and more publications are going digital and online so they can be accessed by the mobile masses. On a social level instant gratification and sharing of life events is now expected so the consumer can share their thoughts and life with the rest of the world if not just their family and friends.

But back to the professional, apart from a few photographers (who, depending upon opinion) have used mobile devices professionally to prove a point or for personal attention? the smart phone supplies neither the quality (camera phone images don't generally print well) nor the control to satisfy the need. We are rightly proud of our craft and nothing less than the best quality to capture our images will do.

So we reach an impasse in many ways. The audience is ever demanding immediacy in their consumption of data, yet the device that most readily supplies this, in use and portability, is inferior in it's output.

Something rather overlooked (in my opinion and from reading/hearing comment) is the implementation of WiFi into the Fuji XE2. The X100s has a menu option for an EyeFi card and many other cameras allow such operation (but this requires more expense from a alternate source).

With the ubiquitous smart phone found in many of our pockets and the very portable XE2 we have a superb quality imaging device which will effortlessly allow us to transmit our images just as easily as the inferior phone camera.

 

 

A simple free download of the Fuji photo receiver application to a smartphone and a single push of the dedicated WiFi button on the XE2 and your professional image is ready for cyberspace consumption.

The paring of devices was effortless on my Android phone and transmittal is fast and simple. Yes the app is limited at the moment, but it does what is required, allow quality images to be uploaded in an instant. I understand for many this is not a necessity and of little consequence, but overall it is something which I believe is invaluable and gives us back that which we lose against smart phones. We now have the quality, control and speed at our fingertips.

I could write about the continuing mistrust of photography shown by much of the public, the age of photoshop and incidents like the Anan Hajj Beirut photograph and Reuters are a prime example, and how the immediacy of camera phone imagery and its raw publication can illicit a certain trust in what is shown. Suffice to say by narrowing gaps between professional imaging tools and transmittal of images is a huge step in the right direction. A professional can now be on location armed simply with the very portable XE2 and a smart phone and almost instantly upload images to a trusted publication or anywhere else in cyberspace. The implications are vast and I personally trust that professional photojournalism (with the skill, sensitivity and research implied) can only benefit from this technology and hope they embrace it's use. I can count several Magnum photographers right now who use mirrorless cameras professionally and hope this is an indication of forward thinking on behalf of the professional community. The Fuji X system is superb in it's ergonomics and imaging quality, it's small, light and quiet and now the XE2 has WiFi built inside the possibilities are there to be taken advantage of by the professional on location.


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